Posts from 13th December 2005

Dec 05

How To End A Comic

Blog 71 comment • 1,778 views

The comic with the worst ending of all time is THE MEAN TEAM, which ran in 2000AD in the 1980s.

This story started as a future gladiator sports story and was alright if you squinted. The Mean Team were the fiercest fighters in a killer capture-the-flag variant, probably called ‘Deathbowl’, and they had been promised their freedom if they won a championship. But oh no! their owner reneged on the deal so the Mean Team went on the run to Earth…which had become overrun with GIANTS and CENTAURS and magic and where no technology worked.

Fairly obviously this much-hyped future sports story had not pulled in the readers, so a switch of direction into swords-and-sorcery was rushed in. When the Mean Team returned the story was even more clearly being made up week-by-week, unfortunately this pressure did not result in amazing leaps of imagination but instead a directionless romp through stock fantasy situations punctuated with stiffly drawn fights. The preconditions to thrill-power do not always generate thrill-power.

Everybody wanted the end to come, but when it did come we were still appalled. In one episode the Team met a big demon, killed it by saying magic words – which turned out to be “MEAN TEAM”! – and then Earth was free. The last two panels had the Mean Team standing in a row, and then the same shot from behind with them all being executed by a police spaceship! To round things off the final caption was, naturally, “THE END…?”

This worst of endings was also of course a good ending. It was memorable. It was aesthetically apt – reflecting the contempt in which creators and readers held the series. It was funny. It was barely thought out. The world of comics is a precarious one and stories and series are cancelled all the time so when a genuine rushed ending appears it’s a moment for the connoisseur.

We Didn’t Start The Fire

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 319 views

And indeed it appears no-one started the Hemel Hempstead fire currently burning up all the oxygen in the world. Not only has the disaster/pretty sunset maker thrown up massive cultural differences in the use of the word casualties (see this ILE thread), but thrown up serious issues about the running of such a dangerous plant. It is great that there are no serious injuries, but it does suggest that security was a touch lax, since they weren’t there to be blown up. And watching the news last night I was somewhat startled to hear that the operation was ceased after a new explosion for them to find out exactly what was in silo five. That was 32 hours after the fire had started. First thing I would do as a safety chief was maybe get a list of what might be in each silo, just in case. (Unless the owners, believing five was safe, had lied and said it is full of seawater.) And why exactly on Sunday were the meteorologists hoping for rain? Have they never heard of a chip pan fire. If we’d had a shower Sunday night, St Albans would have been razed off the earth (not necessarily a bad thing).

That all said, there was something resolutely British in watching everyone walking past the Evening Standard billboards pronouncing “Poisonous Cloud Reaches London Tonight”. It is probably not just British stoicism that lead us to completely ignore such warnings, but also a level at which we trust the Evening Standard. (Space photo from Dundee University though is super great. I bet the BBC weathermen still wish they had the sticky black clouds.)

some notes on endings

Blog 7Post a comment • 519 views

I’d never thought much about this before — but endings of adult lit aren’t as difft from endings of kids’ books as you’d perhaps expect. But perhaps this is unsurprising: one of the basic social facts about adult lit is that our sense of its form, of how and why and if it works, is shaped by what we read early, unjaded.

Anyway, here are my rough categories:
7: “His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” (Joyce/Dub)
iv. “And the room was full of petals from skylight and rafters, and all about them a fragrance, and petals, flowers falling, broom, meadowsweet, falling, flowers of the oak.” (Garner/Owl)
v. “The pirates died. The cat died.” (Aitchison/Pirates)
Formal lyrical flourish, the written equiv of a perfect cadence in old-skool music

i. “He drew a deep breath. ‘Well, I’m back,’ he said.” (Tolk; LotR)
8: “‘We’ll go there. We’ll live there.'”/”‘We’ll fish there. And you too.'” (Pynch; M&D)
= and now the REAL story starts (IRL)

9: “We can only learn so much and live.” (Harris/Hannibal)
ii. ” … now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” (Lewis/Battle)
= and now the REAL story starts (in lala-land)

1: “The gun, Bill Roach, had finally convinced himself, was after all a dream.” (Le Carre/Tinker)
2: “Night is falling. On the first floor of the Hôtel Printania two windows have just lighted up. The yard of the New Station smells strongly of damp wood: tomorrow it will rain over Bouville.” (Sartre/Nausea)
3: “Then I went back into the house and wrote, It is midnight. The rain is beating on the windows. It was not midnight, It was not raining.” (Beckett/Molloy)
iii. “Toft had plenty of time to go down through the forest and along the beach to the jetty, and be just in time to catch the line and tie up the boat.” (Tove/November)
= and now as tales end, real life resumes

4: “All they did was make me think of Silver-Wig, and I never saw her again.” (Chandler/Sleep)
5: “He never saw Molly again.” (Gibson/Neuro)
6: “‘Yes, dammit, I said “was”. The bitch is dead now.'” (Flaming/Casino)
v. “The pirates died. The cat died.” (Aitchison/Pirates)
= and now as real life carries on, the tale ends (except in our deep sad hearts)

the mystery of the unicorn’s horn

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 1,146 views

the mystery of the unicorn’s horn has just begun apparently. well, narwhal, actually. just read it!